tv [untitled] April 10, 2013 1:30am-2:00am PDT
that's why when i thought the film i thought i have to be able to support this whichever way i can. >> roslyn, what do you do when your parents think you are telling them way too much. >> i get the super anxious parent. >> could you give us an example? >> if i understand your question correctly, one of the things i think we as educators in whatever way possible, in whatever capacity, that when it's your own children that your initial reaction, when it's happening to you, even if it's your field of expertise, like when it happens to me, i have definitely gotten the phone calls from the principal and it's not been what angels my children are. they have often been bullied. they've been on both sides of it. i think one of the things that's important is two things. one is that when it's your own
children your anxiety is going to hijack your higher thinking sometimes for a while and you must have people that are advocates and colleagues of yours to help you think it through. the second thing, to be very specific, i think teachers when a parent comes to them trying to, they are reporting a bullying problem, there's a couple things i believe teachers and administrators should never say. here's top three. really? i've never heard of that happening before. now, they honestly could never have seen that happening before or with that child so it comes across obviously in a totally different context. the other is what we have, and you see it in these films, we have a zero tolerance for bullying here which i think is really extraordinary because it makes the administrator look incompetent when they say that. they don't mean to but i don't think you should say that. the other part is, oh, right,
i'm sure the child didn't mean it that way. because really what we see, and we saw it in the morning, these things when they come down to it, is about who the child is, their race, their ethnicity, their sexual orientation. it really is against common sense that you would speak for someone else's experiences and assume when you don't know i think what it really is in that moment is that we are uncomfortable with racism, we are uncomfortable with homophobia and talking about it. and we don't want to step in and deal with it in the moment because we're uncomfortable. i think we are deeply uncomfortable dealing with racism and homophobia and all those isms and that's what comes out of our mouth.
>> the parents who are mad at the kids for not doing something about being victimized, so were some of the administrators, well, i reported this, i interviewed them. what do you say to that? you really focus on that. >> yeah, i think inherent in what -- the movie is all about what happens, like the minutia, the nitty-gritty. there's a scene in the movie, we'll show a clip but i would say for those of you that have seen the movie, the most explosive scene in the film is a conversation between two students and the assistant principal in this school where they emerge from recess and there's clearly some conflict that's going on and she says, whoa, whoa, what's going on here? the two start
telling their own stories and, you know, she basically says, you go away to the one person that was a witness, then she proceeds to have the two students shake hands. and it becomes a very uncomfortable exchange where the boy who has been the target, the victim of bullying, doesn't want to shake the hand of his bully and doesn't want to just let it go. then she basically gets angry and drills into this kid, right? she dismisses the bully and she starts saying if you don't shake his hand you are just like him. and it just carries on but our audiences start screaming at the screen. i mean they are just, like, oh or ugh, it just makes them crazy. and i find that so extraordinary because as a film
maker, someone that watches a lot of scenes, there's a lot of, you know, stories will go through big effort to get that kind of response. you will see, like, someone's house blown up and people are like, oh, or someone's sexually assaulted and people are, like, eh. yet this little moment is so incredibly stirring to our audience. and it's that thing, that little thing that happens, you know, over and over in little ways that take away the dignity of students that everyone can relate to and it's, in a way i always feel, it's why i feel so bad ultimately for kim lockwood, who is the administrator in the film in this scene because, like, it's not like she's done this like insanely awful thing.
she just got it ron and rushed to judge and said shake hands and everything will be okay and didn't take into account the history of those two students and didn't put the pieces together that the boy that didn't want to shake hands was someone that had been victimized and bullied over and over and over again. and then you see that happen. so i would say that in our film these little moments, like what ros said about things that come out of your mouth with your kids, you are, like, oh, no. these are the things, this is actually where the rubber meeting the road a little bit and it's the hardest stuff. we screened in sioux city before anyone had seen the movie for all the administrators in the movie. obviously we've been down a long road with this community and i will make a point thanking them for their courage in making this film, which is what you thought nobody would
ever do, which is allow a camera to film for a year inside a building and film those interactions and those conversations. but they did it because they wanted to do better. but when we first did the screening, someone that had been an administrator for many many years basically said, listen, if we're going to be honest in unpacking this movie, then we have to recognize and i'll be the first one to say it, that i have made those mistakes. i have rushed to judge. i have gotten it wrong in exactly that same way many times in my career. then suddenly the conversation started to flow and not only did people connect to how they missed those moments and that they don't, that they felt they didn't have the training to catch those moments or really do that inner reflection, but then they started sharing their stories of being bullied in their life and why they got into education and suddenly everyone was crying. it's a
really amazing moment. so i think those moments are really important. the other thing you asked about with the parent when sunset is referring to alex's dad. >> they are referring to his mom and dad being upset with him for not standing up for himself, i just wanted to cringe. >> what's clear is when dad said if you don't make a stop, this could happen to your little sister. then the sister gets in on it and it's, like, just puts the, as sisters will do, but i think as a, as someone who was a boy and had difficult conversations with my dad, i really really remember
that sort of punch them, make it go away. a lot of families will give that advice. i'm not even convinced that's the wrong advice, the problem is when they doesn't work, then they shut down and quit coming to you because they are afraid it's a double disappointment. they can't please their peers and find friendship and then they so don't want to lose their fathers as well, this boy-father thing is so deep. >> every single person in this room wants to start making a difference. we want to start doing it right now. ros, how do you start giving a child the dignity that was taken away? >> i'm actually going to use an example that might seem a little far-flung for that question. one of the things i wanted to talk about with colleagues is the write up process when they cuss you out
in the classroom or the hallway. i was in chicago in may and already the strike talk was coming up and talking to some of the teacher. one of the teachers said i don't know what to do about this bullying thing because the kids are cussing me out in the hallway and all i can do is write them up. i think that's a moment i'd like us to think about in terms of empowerment of the teacher. it might be the case that the teacher doesn't feel for a lot of different reasons that she can't depend on his principal to back her up and maybe that principal their best, too. but one of the things i want us it look at in terms of treating children with dignity, which means they are worthy, two things. respect as a word is overused in schools and if i could frankly take down all of the banners of in schools that
say you have to respect yourselves, i would. because i think that kids see that and they think that what we do is put up banners that do not sometimes reflect the way we treat each other underneath those banners. they are so conditioned you are just giving mae a slogan. so i think we naed to own the way in which respect is used in our cull taur and to say to young people, this is what it looks like it me when we walk down the hall and what it looks like to me as a teacher when i walk down the hall and be respectful, if i hear bad language, what a teacher will say if i had to stop at every f-u in the hallway i wouldn't be able to teach. i would spend my entire day doing that. what i would like to think about is those are the small moments that really speak to the culture of the school and so you can't stop every you are a faggot walking down the hallway, you can't stop every retarded. actually you can and you can do it in a way that
really speaks to the dignity of all the children. as a teacher i think sometimes we have forgotten when you are a teacher, kids are going to cuss you out sometimes. you are not going to fall down dead if children say f-u when you walk down the hallway. it won't kill you to have an eraser thrown at you behind your back. that doesn't feel good. but you are going to survive. so when you walk down the hallway and you see some kid say something or you discipline them, right, let me back up. you walk down the hallway and you see kids you are not sure if they are playing or fighting or bullying, if thurpb trained as a teacher one of the things you do, just the way lee is talking about with this teacher, you do something that you don't even think about, which is you go up to the
target and say, are they bothering you? in that moment you have reinforced the power of the bully because the only thing that child can say is, no, they are just playing. you not only are reinforcing the blame here but you also are being seen by all the other kids in the hallway. so this is an important moment. so instead of doing that, what i believe a teacher should do because you assess themselves, sometimes you don't know these kids and they are really big. 11th grade kids are big and you have 30 kids, you have 7 periods a day, you have 5 minutes between classes, if that, you'd like to go to the bathroom at someplace, you have 30 kids coming to your next class, they are bigger than you, you don't know what to do,
you know there's a bullying thing in process, you do the same instinctively as fast as you can, which is to say are they bothering you. with all due respect to the wonderful politicians in the room, what do you about putting bullying policy together is easy. what these people do to actually implement it is really hard and if that moment -- (applause) -- so i really want you to think about like 7 periods a day with teenagers with a 5-minute break. >> so what do you do? >> so you walk down the hallway and you see this happening and you do not address the target. you assess yourself, you are, like, okay, i am the authority figure, okay, deep breath, do i know these children, do i not know these children, who is the person who seems to be doing it, who has the most social power? then you say to all the kids, looking them all in the eye, you tell them where to go,
if you say the word, if you hear the word fag or gay or whatever those words are, you say that is unacceptable, unacceptable, not in my school, it is unacceptable. they say, we're just playing. if you use those words to put somebody down, it is unacceptable. then you get the kids on task where to go and you watch them as they go away. you can get a tremendous amount of information -- police people in the room. watching people walk away from that kind of moment, you get a tremendous amount of information. the person complaining the most about you probably has the most social power. the kids agreeing with that kid, as the bystander said, become the perpetrators. the kids who don't like it or the target probably aren't going to be saying anything. so you watch the kids walk away and assess them. then if you hear as the kis are walking down the hall, she's such a b, you say, wait 1
second, i just heard you call me a b i'm coming at you with respect, i'm talking to you, i'm not yelling at you, i'm not doing this, i'm not doing that, i'm coming and telling you what i want for you and every kid in this school. are we clear? now go to your class. now, if the kid does that and he does it to you again, sure, write it up. but it has to be with the authority of you talking eye to eye with this kid with respect, with dignity. because it's not cool to just give it to the principal because the principal all day would be doing the write up and that frankly does not help the teacher's authority in that hall in that moment. they have to have the power, to have the authority at that moment you just called me a b i know you are 6 foot 4, i know you are mumbling but i still heard it. i respect you enough that i'm talking to you face to face. i'm not going to write this up right now because i expect this problem will be done. are we good?
in my experience when you talk to kids like that, they stop because you are coming at them with respect. the last thing i would do is go to the target when nobody is looking, hey, i need some help with something. as you are walking down the hallway, hey, the thing i saw in the hallway yesterday, i don't know if that was playing or what it was, but from my end that doesn't seem right to me. you know you can always come to me. i know i'm not your teacher, i know i don't have all the answers but i can find somebody who can. you don't expect a big hallmark moment where the kid tells you everything. but you are planting a seed. we need to have teachers look like i am present, i am seen, i see you, i care about you and i care about you as much as i care about every single kid in this school. defend the rights of every child in the school and
i'm going to do that in the 5 minutes of my break. (applause). >> lee, in your movie there was a scene on the bus that i know you want to tell us about. are we going to see it? because it has to do with what she's talking about. >> can i help you guys? >> very upset ?oo ?a i am going to be honest, i am upset enough i don't want to talk about --. >> sorry. okay, i just got confused about that clip. so this is the clip we're trying to play, right, whoever is running this. hi, people back there. okay, we were in the scene with the principal that's exactly what we were just talking about. take it back, what's the
farthest back on that clip that you've got? >> move. >> what? >> out of your care. >> that's it? oh, okay, well just play it, we'll talk about it afterwards. >> how can i help you guys? >> very upset. >> i am so upset i don't want him to ride the bus any more. >> get your ass off the bus. >> move. >> what? >> if they are not in your care, someone else who is just as capable of keeping him safe and i don't feel like that. >> i've ridden it before. i've been on that route. i've been on a couple of them. they are just as good as gold.
>> i've actually never seen that edit before. >> but you get the point. >> you get the idea, you know, that -- across the two worlds are really different, how the administrator sees it and what's happening for the student. what i will say about that is a lot of people ask about how did you get this footage? and also people say, well, why didn't you stop it, right? i am confronted with this scene and this question and this moment a lot. and so i think what's really extraordinary about the -- at its core is the fact the kids are willing to do this in front
of an adult, right? that they did not think that they were doing anything wrong, they did not believe that there would be any consequences to those actions because they have been bullying alex for so long in front of so many adults with no repercussions and so my presence became irrelevant, like, over time having filmed throughout a year in the school, you know, a guy with a small camera, kids really forgot about that really quickly. and you saw just normal life behavior go on that they would do on any given day. and so i think what's really intense about that is how normal it can be in a school where the climate is poor where bullying thrives and lives and is
tolerated in all sorts of subtle or more obvious ways, just how easy it is for those kids to behave that way. so it's a very telling scene and from my perspective, you know, we broke the rules of documentary film making afterwards and we took that footage to the school and to alex's parents and it really changed the course of the movie. those of you who have seen the movie really know things shifted after that point. but it was really hard to be on that bus and to see that happening to alex. >> having seen the follow-up to what you're talking about, i want lee to tell you about the consequences to the boys who got called in. were there consequences? >> yeah, i mean, you see a type of disciplining that happens afterwards which was --
really, it was amazing. it felt like they didn't even want to deal with it. the only reason they actually dealt with it because i was in their face going are you guys going to deal with this? are you actually going to call in any of these kids? there was such a kind of yawn response to it. the discipline was pretty -- very weak in many ways. but so it calls forth for me as an example about school climate that i learned over the course of my year of shooting in that school because people talk about school climate all the time and i think it's hard to grasp, right? although i know that this is a room of people that do deal with this and think about this all the time, but i will just share this one anecdote, which is during the course of that year, this is -- now frame this up against alex has just been assaulted by 10
kids on the bus, he's a kid with special needs, he has been bullied for years, he can barely speak without his lips shaking, i mean there's obviously something going on with this kid, right? but the response is a yawn. now a few weeks earlier $15 was stolen from a teacher in the building and the response was not a yawn, it was a 5-alarm fire. there were literally police cars came, lights on, sirens on, to the building. the principal who you never see in our movie because you never see, we saw that day running up and down the halls, they were pulling kids out of classes, they were lining them up, this school is on lockdown until that thief was caught. guess what? what message do you think those kids got about stealing? we don't do it at this middle school. it's not okay. and all that same time that,
like, subtle messaging around bullying is, we don't care about this. that's the best example i have from what i saw about how those messages are really conveyed to the kids because that trust issue is so important. i mean i screened, we have been screening the film across the country for school districts, this wonderful program i'm really proud of called one million kids it see bully. we were in cleveland and after the q and a student came up and said explain the bullying that's going on, what do i do? i didn't want to give him a crap answer because i'm gone in two minutes. i said, who do you trust in the building? he said, nobody. i don't trust
any educator in my building to help me. and it was interesting because there was a gentleman who had organized a screening who was himself a victim of bullying who had just spoken on stage to this group and i felt him really deeply, he was so committed, he was so passionate, so i said to this student, i said, what about mr. so and so? he's, like, i just never, the trust was so burnt that he wasn't willing it even try again. so i just -- more anecdotes. >> that's really helpful. ros, one of the things we talked about before we came up here, kids think this is all a joke until they get more information and a lot of parents think this is a joke too and maybe some parents are
coddling their children. >> as i do the work around the country that i do, i am concerned about how bullying is being politicized and that it's therefore losing its power, that we really are in this incredible place of opportunity where a lot of people are galvanized, here we are in this room. but we're right at this place where i think you get coopted into nothingness very easily. and the way in which that comes across is in, where people say to me, well, people are going to get into fights, people are going to get into conflict, teachers are now saying to me, not every conflict is bullying and the policy is every single concept is bullying and it's not so i don't know what to do. this is making me cez.
. the policies of it that i hear when i do radio shows, come on, this is the way we do all this stuff, a little jockeying back and forth. here is what i'm saying to people that's working in the areas where that's really a part of the culture. i say to them, bullying prevention programs are not coddling, it's actually the opposite. if done well we know that conflict is inevitable. you are going to get into conflicts with people, you are. and abuse of power is probably inevitable, too. at some point in your life you are going to go up against it. so what a good bullying prevention program does is teach social competency to manage those moments better. that's what this is. forget about the word bullying. honestly, don't think about it, put it to your side, don't think about it now. what we are doing is we want our children to be prepared to handle conflict so they are not so anxious just like everybody is when you are dealing with
conflict. when you did that, it becomes a moment of saying to somebody, it triggers everybody's desire, regardless of your political persuasion, about self-responsibility and independence. i find that to be a very helpful way to market this issue. the second thing that i think is important about this is to meet it head-on where it is, meaning i get it, i understand that you feel that we are losing, we are losing its content. and the reason it was sort of i think somebody said it this morning, is about the word drama. kids are not using the word bullying any more because bullying triggers adult involvement, maybe, right? also you are weak, you are still perceived as being weak or targeted for some things identifying you as being bullied. if you use the word drama you don't have to take it seriously. i just want to put u